The Minor (U18) Ladies Football Championship drew to a close on Saturday with the Division 1 final over in St. Vincents on their All-Weather Pitch. It’s probably a discussion for another day that a neutral venue should be used to host this flagship final and maybe this is something that Mary McAleese will sort out in her new role! At the very least she might review the coin that is used to decide the venue as that is 2 years in a row that the Boden faithful have had to travel Northside for the final, with the 2021 decider having been out in St. Annes Park against Clontarf. All distractions were put aside before the match with the team being facilitated with training slots on our own All-Weather pitch to ensure the team were as well prepared as they could be.
One other small matter was that one third of the squad (7 girls) had their school debs the night before the match – not ideal preparation of course but with this group of girls you knew it was never going to be an issue, and that they had not got this far to fall at the final hurdle.
So when Saturday afternoon came, all showed up ready for battle with good support for the girls from family, friends and the extended club family. The Vincents support was considerable – ladies football is relatively new to the club and this was their first time challenging at the top level and so the interest was high. With a breeze running down the pitch, Boden lost the toss (that coin again!) and went into the wind in the first half. Early points were exchanged on both sides but then the first turning point was when Vincent’s got their first goal. They started to get the upper hand and with another point on the board looked dangerous. But the Boden girls have been through this before and there was to be no panic. Karyn netted with a neat finish followed by 2 points from play in quick succession from Aine and Kate to restore the lead for Boden and when Kate scored a 2nd goal, things were starting to look promising. But Vincent’s were really up for the challenge and when they netted again and followed up with a succession of points, Boden looked a little bit rattled and were happy to just go in 4 points behind
HT U18 Division One Championship Final: Ballyboden2-03 St. Vincents 2-07
There was a lot of soul searching at half time with stirring speeches from within the group. It wasn’t lost on the girls that for most of them (the 2004 girls) that this was their last competitive outing together and so there was no way that this was going to be given up easily. The Boden girls gradually got the upper hand in the 2nd half but only had closed the gap by a point with 10 minutes of the 2nd half gone. The next 10 minutes was to be the purple patch for Boden as they finally made the key breakthrough with a goal from Megan Dignam to level the scores. This was followed up with a couple of points and then another goal, this one from Alice. All of a sudden, the lead was 5 points to Boden with 10 minutes left to see out the victory. Vincents threw everything at the girls – they scored 2 points, but each one they got was cancelled out with a response from Boden to keep the gap at 5. There was tension right to the final whistle and delight when the final whistle was blown.
FT U18 Division One Championship Final: Ballyboden 4-08 St. Vincents 2-09
The presentations were made to Captain Hannah Byrne, photos taken with all the families and then celebrations went on the early hours back in the club. This was the end of a challenging year for the group. With a large number of the group on Minor Inter-County duty with Dublin at Football or Camogie, it was difficult to get the group together very often. To come through at the end of the year with a League and Championship double is no mean feat and is a testament to the dedication of the group. The first-year minors developed through the year and integrated with the larger group of 2004 girls. Between the posts, Lauren’s goal was rarely breached, and her distribution was key in setting up possession. At the back Ailbhe, Jenny and Amy were solid throughout the season. The Boden rear guard is what the success has been built on and these 3 slotted into various roles seamlessly. Further forward, Heather and Ruby also slotted into the team well and were a constant threat with their energy and talents. Ellen and Aisling also made a great contribution to the League campaign.
For the 2004 girls, this was to be the end of an era and I am sure that they will now make a great impact to the Senior ranks. Like all age groups, they nearly all started as 6-year-olds in Academy. Since they were put together as the first team as U13’s they have never looked back. Their achievements on the pitch have been impressive winning:
Championships at U13, U14, U15,
Minor Year 1 (with 2003 girls),
Minor Year 2 (with 2005 girls)
– only Covid beat them at U16 when the competition wasn’t completed.
Throw in Dublin Feile and League titles along the way and this is clearly a special group.
Off the pitch, they have been a credit to the club and the camaraderie they have developed is great sight to see. 15 of the panel that started off at U13 completed the journey on Saturday as U18’s along with Karyn who had joined along the way. It has been a pleasure for all the coaches to have been involved with the team over the last number of years and we wish them the best of luck as we hope they continue with the senior teams for many years to come. So well done and thanks to EmmaJane, Sadie, Megan De and Megan Di, Ella R and Ella Mc, Leonie, Alice and Caoimhe, Leah, Shauna, Sarah, Kate and Aine and all led by Captain Fantastic Hannah.
Thanks to all the coaches and FLO’s who have worked with the team over the years – too numerous to mention because so many have played a part but to give it a go – Ronan, Brian, Deborah, Carol, Eoin, PJ, Seamus, Dave Q, John D, Catherine, Mags, Mary, Alyson, Sam, Jenny, Janet, Aisling, Jack, Danny, Declan, Dave R, Patrick.
Thanks to Miriam and Liam for the photos which capture all the memories and thanks to Cliona for promoting the team so well on the social media platforms.
Finally, a special word for the captain of the ship, Kieran, who planned every detail around every training session and match throughout the years. The attention to detail around players, equipment, opposition, venues, referees was incredible, and this dedication rubbed off on his team who realised that in order to achieve their goals that this was the level of dedication required.
Congratulations to all and best of luck to the 20005/06 combination in going for 3 in a row.